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Wednesday, Oct 27, 2021
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Burnt Leaves Of The Chinar

A comprehensive study of Kashmir looks at its history, the conflict, the irretrievable tangle of interests and casts a gimlet eye on political bungling

Burnt Leaves Of The Chinar
Photograph by PTI
Burnt Leaves Of The Chinar
outlookindia.com
2019-03-22T14:12:52+05:30

This is the most apt book to read at present, with the faceoff bet­ween India and Pakistan over Kashmir at a dangerous new level.  This conflict-ridden tale has been playing out since insurgency started 30 years ago, or perhaps since Kashmir was first invaded by Pak­istan 71 years ago. As the oldest unresolved issue on the UN statute book, the Kashmir story is narrated with precision by Radha Kumar; she calls it a “labour of pain as much as of love”.

The Kashmir dispute has two intertwined strands: internal and external. As an academic and practitioner of conflict resolution, Kumar covers the full spectrum of the Kashmir imbroglio, encompassing its historical roots, troubled legacy and convoluted internal politics, couched in evolving geo­politics and marked by the failure to find any durable meeting points between New Delhi and Srinagar and New Delhi and Rawalpindi. Except, as Kumar points out, in late 2006, with a Musharraf-led government in Pakistan and UPA government in India, when the Lambah-Aziz bac­k­channel produced the 4/5 point formula: no exc­hange of territory; soft borders across LoC; self-governance and gre­­ater autonomy in all three parts of undivided J&K; a cross-LoC consultative mechanism; and demilitarisation of Kashmir commensurate with a decline in terrorism. Kumar says that Musharraf could not push this formula through due to problems arising from his suspending the chief justice and the Lal Masjid episode, without mentioning that Manmohan Singh did not receive the mandate from his party to take the initiative forward. It was a missed opportunity, just like the failure to convert the military gains, including 93,000 Pakistani POWs, in 1971 into a political settlement of the LoC as a border, even if trickier.

Kashmir’s accession to India, distinct from the full merger by...

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